Scenario analysis of Agro-Environment measure adoption for soil erosionprotection in Sicilian vineyard (Italy)

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Most of the challenges in designing land use policies that address sustainability issues are inherent to the conceptof Agro-Environmental Measures (AEM). Researchers, farmers and mainly policy makers need to evaluate theimpact of new and existing policies for soil protection.In Europe, farmers commit themselves, for a minimum period of at least five years, to adopt environmentallyfriendlyfarming techniques that undergone legal obligations. On the other hand, farmers receive payments thatprovide compensation for additional costs and income foregone resulting from applying those environmentallyfriendly farming practices in line with the stipulations of agri-environment contracts.In this context we prospect scenarios on soil erosion variations in a detailed case study after the application ofAgro-Environmental Measures (AEM).The study area is located in the South part of Sicily. In a district area of 11,588 ha, 35.5 % is devoted to vineyardcultivation, 32.2 % is arable land and only 11.1 % cultivated to olive grow. 2416 ha are urbanized areas and otherless important crops.A paired-site approach was chosen to study the difference in soil organic carbon stocks after AEM adoption,following criteria based on Conteh (1999) also applied in several research studies. For the purpose of comparison,the members of a paired site were selected to be similar with respect to the type of soil, slope, elevation, anddrainage, but not to AEM. The comparisons were made between adjacent patches of land with different AEM, anda known history of land use and management.100 paired sites (two adjacent plots) were chosen and three soil samples (0-30 cm depth) were collected in eachplot (600 soil samples).The rainfall erosivity (R) factor (Mj mm ha-1 hour-1 year-1) was estimated with the formula specifically proposedfor Sicily by Ferro and coauthors in 1999. The soil erodibility factor (K, in tons hour MJ-1 mm-1) was mappedon the base of soil texture and soil organic carbon content of the topsoil (averaged on the first 50 cm of soildepth) with the table published by Stone and Hilborn (2012). The slope-length and slope gradient (LS) factorswere derived from the Digital Terrain Model of Sicily (20 x 20 m) using the formulas proposed by Wischmeierand Smith (1978), and revised by McCool et al. (1987 and 1989). The C factor were applied according previousstudies in the same area and ranged among 0.22 and 0.12 and less than 0.10 using permanent species able toreduce erosion rate up to 90% (Gristina et al., 2006; Novara et al. 2011).The scenario analysis of the soil erosion reduction after the adoption of AEM could be used by policy makers asa base for the evaluation of the Payment for Ecosystem Service (PES) to be paid to farmers through the futureAgro-Ecosystem measures incentives.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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